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KOTA KINABALU, Oct 18 ― AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes today scoffed at Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad’s (MAHB) claim that yesterday’s two-hour immigration queue at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) was an “isolated” incident.
Fernandes said that his airlines has repeatedly highlighted the lack of open counters to clear travellers at the budget terminal, but claimed MAHB ignored its calls.
“We saw their statement, which frankly is weird. They said it’s an isolated incident; it’s every day. It’s not isolated, unless they have a different definition of isolation,” he told reporters after a paying a courtesy visit to Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
The tycoon said it was good that MAHB acknowledged the lengthy wait, but added that the fault should not be passed on to immigration.
“We have been asking from the beginning, we told them there's not enough counters or space, we are bringing in thousands of people into a small corridor. We’ve been asking to remove the choc and duty free counters.
“It is unacceptable for old people and children to be standing for three hours in a queue.
“It’s not immigration’s fault, there is a lack of space and desks for them,” he said.
Complaints of congestion at immigration counters at KLIA2 are not new, but AirAsia issued a press statement to highlight a two-hour wait yesterday that it said was so severe, some passengers missed their connecting flights and appointments.
Fernandes said that MAHB had failed to manage the low cost terminal properly, citing a lack of problems including burst pipes, air conditioning issues, long walks to the check in, closed runways among other problems.
He said he saw for himself the congestion on a return flight from Singapore where the queues were so long that AirAsia staff gave out free water to the people waiting in line, claiming “wasn’t single a MAHB staff in sight”.
“AirAsia never gives free water. This is the first time.
“It was all AirAsia staff just directing the passengers, that’s just wrong. And so something has to be done. If you don’t like AirAsia, fine, but this is not about AirAsia, it’s about our country,” he said.
Fernandes also took the Malaysian Aviation Commission to task for not dealing with AirAsia’s complaints on the issue, claiming the airline wrote in about the long wait last month.
“Their response was to provide them with evidence.
“As a regulator, you should come to the airport and have a look for yourself if you really care, why should the airlines be sending you evidence. We’ve posted lot of photos on social media, lots of consumers posted too, but we have had no help or response from Mavcom that is satisfactory.
“They should have checked themselves. If we’re wrong we’re wrong, but if we’re right they should penalise the airport,” he said.